'Very severe' Cyclone Vayu to remain strong even after landfall; 1.6 lakh people evacuated in Gujarat

June 12 (AZINS) An alert has been sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat as Cyclone Vayu has turned "very severe" and its impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall Thursday, officials said.

As many as 52 teams of the National Disaster Management Relief Force (NDRF), comprising around 45 rescuers each, have been moved to the state, while 10 columns of the Indian Army have been kept on stand-by.

Warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy have been kept standby as well.

A general alert has been sounded across 10 districts in Gujarat as wind speeds are likely to touch 170 km per hour, a Home Ministry official said.

Cyclone Vayu inches closer to coast

Vayu has turned into a "very severe" cyclone and it is expected that its impact will continue to be strong for 24 hours even after the landfall -- between Porbandar and Union territory Diu, the official said.

Normally a cyclone becomes weak after its landfall.

As per the latest weather report, cyclone Vayu, which has turned into a 'very severe cyclonic storm', has changed its course slightly and would now hit Gujarat coast anywhere between Veraval in the south and Dwarka in the west in the afternoon Thursday, officials said.

The cyclone is now situated around 280 km south of and is very likely to move nearly northwards and cross Gujarat coast between Dwarka and Veraval as a "very severe cyclonic storm" with wind speeds of 155-165 kmph gusting to 180 kmph around afternoon of Thursday, a release by the Meteorological Centre said.

After making the landfall, the cyclone is likely to move along and parallel to Saurashtra and Kutch coast, it said.

An alert was sounded in 10 districts of Gujarat as the cyclone has turned "very severe" and its impact is expected to remain strong for 24 hours even after its landfall Thursday, officials said.

1.6 lakh people evacuated in Gujarat, precautionary measures taken

Residents of some of the Gujarat districts have been asked to move out to safer places or cyclone shelter centres even as authorities shifted around 1.60 lakh people on the coast to safer places.

People from low-lying areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions have been evacuated, state officials said Wednesday.

Operations at ports and airports in these regions have been suspended as precautionary measure, officials said.

As a precautionary measure, holiday has been declared in schools, colleges and 'anganwadis' (government-run women and child care centres) on June 12 and June 13 in these 10 districts.

The cyclone is likely to damage thatched houses, blow away rooftops and metal sheets, disrupt power and communication lines and cause major damage to roads and crops, the weather department said.

As a precautionary measure, the Railways announced that all the trains for this region have been either short terminated or cancelled for two days, starting from 6 pm Wednesday.

As all airports in Kutch and Saurashtra region have been asked to shut their operations, flights to these destinations from Ahmedabad Airport stand cancelled for Thursday, an official said. 

Home Secretary holds meeting of NCMC

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba Wednesday chaired a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) where preparation for relief and rescue operations were discussed threadbare.

The NCMC meeting took stock of the precautionary measures taken by the Gujarat government and Diu UT administration with a view to ensure that no human life is lost, damage to vital infrastructure is minimised and to ensure early recovery of all essential services post-cyclone landfall. Diving and rescue teams and relief materials have been kept on standby for rendering assistance to civil authorities, as required, another official said.

Medical teams and facilities at Indian Naval hospital in Mumbai are on standby to handle medical emergencies.

Both the administrations have also been advised for timely evacuation of people from low-lying coastal and vulnerable areas.

The Gujarat and Diu administration are evacuating about 3 lakh people from the identified vulnerable areas and they are being shifted to around 700 cyclone and relief shelters. 

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday reviewed the preparations in his home state and directed officials to ensure all possible steps for the safety of people.

(With PTI inputs)